We Visited a “Full Contact Gunfight Arena” in Las Vegas to Ask: Has Anything Changed?

Did the massacre change any opinions about gun safety?

In addition to interviewing gun control advocates who were demonstrating in Las Vegas on Wednesday nightMother Jones filmmaker Al Kamalizad also focused his camera on a local business-owner who works with guns every day. We wanted to know: Will the massacre change any of his opinions on the gun control debate?

Earlier on Wednesday, we went to Las Vegas Gunfights, a company that sells tactical training sessions and simulated “gunfight experiences for tourists,” to speak to businessman Nephi Oliva about his reactions to the Las Vegas massacre and his starkly different take on gun regulations.

“We can have a serious discussion about gun control, but first, take the guns away from the criminals,” Oliva said. “Then take the guns away from crooked police officers. Then take them away from crooked politicians, and tyrannical government officials. Once you’ve done all that, I will gladly hand my guns over.”

Inside, we found a walled-off arena with corrugated metal siding, sand floors, and stacks of barrels that can be used as weapons or for cover. Here, participants battle using real guns and non-lethal ammo in a free-for-all that has left “six or seven guys knocked out this year.”

“Republicans and Democrats both want safety, everybody wants to feel safe, so in that regard we’re all on the same page,” Oliva said. “But the difference we find is that Democrats tend to rely more on the government to provide that protection, and Republicans rely more on each other and themselves.”

Go inside the arena in the video above.

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Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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